Another Foxconn Worker Plummets to His Death, Time to Demand Answers

Another Foxconn employee has fallen from a building to his death, the tenth fall reported since the start of this year, eight of which have proved fatal. Local police said they were looking into the incident, but given the spate of apparent suicides and bizarre circumstances surrounding them (a previous victim was found with knife wounds to the chest that were determined to be self-inflicted), these investigations come as little consolation.

Something has to give, lest employees of the world's largest manufacturer of electronics and computer components continue leaping to their death at a clip of about 2 per month. I'm not suggesting we boycott Foxconn products -- they produce so much hardware for so many companies that this would hardly be feasible -- but someone needs to step to the plate and start demanding some answers. And that someone should be Apple. Or Intel. Or Sony. Or any number of industry heavyweights whose products come from Foxconn parts.

"We are extremely tired, with tremendous pressure," the campaign group China Labor Watch quoted workers in a computer assembly department as saying. According to the report, many employees blame the recent suicides to the stress of 12 hour work days, sometimes for weeks at a time without a day off.

What's particularly sad about this is how young the workers are. The latest victim was only 21 years old, and of the 420,000 employees based in Shenzhen, most are under 30, Reuters reports. These are young adults barely out of the next who are feeling the pressure to churn out iPhones, iPods, motherboards, console components, and other parts around the clock. Even Amazon's Kindle is sporting Foxconn inside, yet why aren't any of these companies demanding answers? Why isn't anyone taking a stand against working conditions that have twenty-somethings stabbing themselves in the chest before diving off of building tops?

Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Amazon, Sony, and every other company that uses Foxconn parts, it's time to stop burying your collective heads in the sand. Issue a statement, cancel orders, launch your own investigation - do something, anything, because people's lives, the ones who play a part in making your products, are depending on it.